Facebook isn’t your friend


Jokes about stalking aside, Facebook wants to know more about you – much more.

Facebook was once a sanctuary for those who wanted a more restricted and less-creepy social networking site than MySpace. Now it’s doing everything it can to cash in on marketing and advertising opportunities, and our privacy is being sacrificed.

Opinion: Facebook isn’t your friend

Facebook’s most outrageous attack on privacy happened over the last month when the new service Beacon was introduced. The monitoring service was designed to track Facebook users as they navigated to pages on other Web sites. If you made a purchase at one of many participating Web sites, Beacon would announce your action to all of your friends. It was marketing genius. Suddenly Facebook users became unwitting advocates of Web sites and products, and formerly private purchases became public endorsements.

On Wednesday, amid a rising tide of opposition, Mark Zuckerberg sheepishly announced changes to the Beacon system. In a blog entry, the Facebook founder apologized for the sneaky introduction of Beacon. Beacon is far too lucrative to just disappear, but there is now an opt-out option. Everyone is enrolled unless the opt-out is selected under their privacy settings.

Facebook is no longer an innocent networking site catered to students. The willingness of individuals to reveal their interests, desires and personalities in their profiles has created such a valuable marketing potential that Facebook is tripping over itself to exploit the opportunities. The old Facebook is long gone.

Worst of all, many users were unaware that such a tracking system was being implemented, and Facebook was nonchalant about the whole thing as if we should have expected our privacy to be violated. And maybe we should have.

Every day it seems we are reminded the Internet offers no privacy, and that’s the only lesson to take away from Facebook’s latest faux pas. It doesn’t matter how many Facebook friends we have or how elaborate our profiles are; we are simply marketing pawns, and Facebook is licking its chops at the prospects.